For our second installment of the Featured User Group, we're taking a look at The Escapist Team Fortress 2 Group - PC. Dominating over most user groups, they currently have 471 users. The videos made from their games and stunts have been virally passed around the Escapist staff every time they've made one. They are the reason why we decided to keep the official Escapist TF2 servers running, and they have never let us down in representing The Escapist while deploying dispensers, backstabbing snipers, and screaming "MEDIC!"
- Why was The Escapist Team Fortress 2 Group - PC user group founded?
Danny: It was founded by SpinWhiz on my behalf during the first wave of usergroups, when only staff could create them. I think he did it so that I'd have a tool with which to organize additional extravaganzas (for those who can remember them.), but it's certainly outgrown its original intention.
Root: Hugely. Back in the beginning, there was just a few of us that joined the server on Tuesdays. Now we're playing to a full server most nights. It's mostly just Europe based at the moment, but we're trying to get a reliable American admin to run some American nights as well.
Wordy: After Groups got introduced, it was pretty much the next logical step from the PC Gaming Group thread, created way back. From the PC group it became pretty clear that the game that most people had in common was TF2, and a group just made it easier to organize games.
- What activities have you done that came from the user group?
Danny: Well we've had hundreds of one-off games, melee nights, themed nights, special game modes like prop hunt, filmed and themed events. That's just the things I know about!
Root: That's apart from delving into other games like Killing Floor and Left 4 Dead - even some Saints Row 2, Bad Company 2 and the like.
Wordy: Usually someone sees a youtube video of a custom mode, shares it with the group, then I scurry off to find a server with an owner who's willing to let it be overtaken for a night. Our next takeover is a Zombie Fortress server, then after that we've got the ETF2L Highlander contest (apologies, the team has already been filled), so there's always something or another being planned.
- What do you think other users could gain from the group?
Danny: We've got a fantastically light-hearted group here, full of people who don't really take it that seriously, but are nonetheless good at the games they play, and helpful to the newbies.
Root: There's also a wide range of skilled players that can give you tips on how to get the best out of your games, be that skill or hardware.
Wordy: A big aspect of online gaming is the community, so having a group of players who are willing to take the time to share whatever experience they have in game is helpful. This really helps people who are just getting into a game not get discouraged by heavy losses against more experienced players. We've got two brilliant servers, admin who are online regularly and a great group of players. All of this basically makes the Escapist servers a friendly and laid back place to be.
- What sets you apart from other game-oriented user groups?
Danny: I think it's the game we play. The silly side of TF2 is well expressed through our members. Just check the group chat. It ranges from TF2 to just about anything. We're focused, but not that focused.
Root: And sometimes not focused at all. Like the rest of the forums, we have our off-topic rants and raves.
Wordy: It's more about creating a group of people who are fun to play with than anything else, and I'd like to think we achieve that. You can see that in our approach to the "clan" archetype. It's a bit of an inside joke that there's so many of us, when we clan stack we overflow and fill both teams.
- If you could improve one aspect of the User Group area, what would you improve?
Danny: I think that some kind of @all command would be useful. For comments you don't want to over-do with a news update, but which everyone should really be notified of, even with chat notifications off.
Root: Definitely. Perhaps even a notification of the Steam/Twitter accounts of people in the groups for easier communication.
Wordy: I think I'd add an Events tab. Having something that lets us tell people that there's a game going on (and not having to translate the start time to a different time zone would be useful too).
- Anything else you would like to add?
Danny: I think that's it. Join up!
Root: If you're good, join us. If you're not very good, join us. If you're ambivalent, join us. If you're that guy who kicked the football into my garden, I'm keeping it. Bloody kids.
Wordy: From all of us, I'd like to thank the people who have helped get the group into games. Kross, for actually running the Escapist servers, the guys at Voogru (Dodgeball), DarkImmortal and Geit at GameMasters (Prop Hunt), StrontiumDog (Companion Cube Soccer), the GFL clan (Zombie Fortress) and everyone over at 22g for general brilliance. Also, massive kudos to Boylee from Playstuff, he designed a map especially for us for our recent 3v3 tournament. Also, to the people reading this, come and join us on the servers, the more the merrier!
Thanks Danny, Root, and Wordsmith!
If you would like to nominate a user group for an upcoming Featured User Group, feel free to let me (that is, Kuliani) know through a PM!